Doughnutism

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Doughnutism is a phrase that I found out about from a presentation of Carat’s 2021 trends paper. In the paper itself it is called the donut problem, but when talked about the phrase doughnutism was used.

COVID-19 has changed behaviours. More people are telecommuting, which has changed people’s travel needs. As a consequence, there has been an uptake in locally bought products and services.

Carat found data that suggested there was a common phenomenon in multiple cities. Lots of activities on the peripheral, where the bulk of people live, but a sharp decline in footfall in the middle. This would be shops that catered for commuters in central business districts, urban tourist traffic or destination shopping areas.

This void in the centre is where doughnutism comes from.

Carat cited CACI research that showed retail footfall returned to only 25 per cent of pre-COVID levels after the spring lockdown was lifted. This was in sharp contrast to the return to pre-COVID levels of activity in residential areas.

As the report says:

In a way, it’s the idea of the ‘fifteen-minute city’ brought to life. In Sorbonne University professor Carlos Moreno’s model, people would be able to access everything they need for everyday living within a 15-minute walk and have everything else delivered.

Carat Trends 2021 – The Year of Emotionally Intelligent Marketing

There were some indications that local-oriented social media like site Nextdoor rose in user activity. Facebook is developing a competitor. It also offers an opportunity for digital out of home media to thrive.

Carat thinks that doughnutism will continue. If it does depend on how long COVID lasts and how it affects knowledge workers in the long run. There was a piece in the FT that talked about how creativity might be being adversely affected with the move to remote working.

Creativity often comes out of having an itch that you can’t scratch. A classic example of that would be the story behind Post-It notes.

The idea for the Post-it note was conceived in 1974 by Arthur Fry as a way of holding bookmarks in his hymnal while singing in the church choir. He was aware of an adhesive accidentally developed in 1968 by fellow 3M employee Spencer Silver. No application for the lightly sticky stuff was apparent until Fry’s idea.

9 Things Invented or Discovered by Accident – howstuffworks

Six years later the Post-it note was brought to market and the rest as they say was history.

But it can also come out of serendipity, whether its a conversation whilst in the coffee queue or in an ideation meeting. Experiences that Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack or Google Duo don’t perform that well.

“Exposure to new and different experiences — sounds, smells, environments, ideas, people — is a key source of creative spark,”… “These external stimuli are fuel for our imaginations and the imagined, made real, is what we typically mean by creativity.” “Homeworking can starve us of many of these creative raw ingredients — the chance conversation, the new person or idea or environment. Homeworking means serendipity is supplanted by scheduling, face-to-face by Zoom.” “Homeworking can starve us of many of these creative raw ingredients — the chance conversation, the new person or idea or environment. Homeworking means serendipity is supplanted by scheduling, face-to-face by Zoom.”

Where’s the spark? How lockdown caused a creativity crisis – FT

This quote was attributed by the FT to Andy Haldane, an economist at the Bank of England.

A longer term driver of doughnutism in London and other world cities is more likely to be the gradual conversion of office blocks, retail spaces and nightlife venues into investment properties. Many of these investment properties have overseas owners, who leave them vacant rather than living in them, renting them out or doing short term letting (a la AirBnB).

More jargon watch related content here.